cover of book

Climate and the Making of Worlds: Toward a Geohistorical Poetics
by Tobias Menely
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Paper: 978-0-226-77628-6 | eISBN: 978-0-226-77631-6 | Cloth: 978-0-226-77614-9
Library of Congress Classification PR551.M46 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 821.50936

In this book, Tobias Menely develops a materialist ecocriticism, tracking the imprint of the planetary across a long literary history of poetic rewritings and critical readings which continually engage with the climate as a condition of human world making. Menely’s central archive is English poetry written between John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) and Charlotte Smith’s “Beachy Head” (1807)—a momentous century and a half during which Britain, emerging from a crisis intensified by the Little Ice Age, established the largest empire in world history and instigated the Industrial Revolution. Incorporating new sciences into ancient literary genres, these ambitious poems aspired to encompass what the eighteenth-century author James Thomson called the “system . . . entire.” Thus they offer a unique record of geohistory, Britain’s epochal transition from an agrarian society, buffeted by climate shocks, to a modern coal-powered nation. Climate and the Making of Worlds is a bracing and sophisticated contribution to ecocriticism, the energy humanities, and the prehistory of the Anthropocene.

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